Citing Connecticut Vital Records

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jamiechall's picture
Citing Connecticut Vital Records

Hello all. I'm having a bit of an issue in deciding how to cite Connecticut vital records and thought I'd turn here for some advice. Connecticut is an odd state, in that it's vital record certificates are created by the state, but originals (or at least duplicates) can be acquired from both the state and the town of occurance. That means one can order the same certificates from both the town clerk and the Department of Health. Does that make it a local level certificate or a state level certificate?

I have been using the state level template, but rather than using the state Vital Records Office as the repository, I use the town clerk from where I obtained the record, like this:

Connecticut, Department of Heath, Bureau of Vital Statistics, death certificate [no number] (1909), John H Hall; New Milford Town Clerk, New Milford, Connecticut.

Does anyone have any suggestions otherwise or is this fine?


EE's picture

Hello, jamiechall.

In states like Connecticut, with the situation you describe, we should bear in mind the basic rule of citation: We cite what we use.  

Even though "copies" of someone's vital records may be obtained from a local office or a state office, the two versions are often not the same. If we obtain a certificate from the state office, we cite that as a certificate from the state office (EE 9.41). If we obtain a certificate from the local office, we cite it as a certificate from the local office--city or county (EE 9.32–9.33). If the local record comes from a register rather than a stand-alone certificate, our citation makes that distinction (EE 9.34).

As our research progresses and we do the "reasonably exhaustive research" that we should do in order to reach reliable conclusions, we begin to see contradictions in those records.To determine what is accurate, or the most reliable, we need to (a) understand the process under which that type of record was created; (b) understand the different versions that would have been created in the process; and (c) to know, precisely, which version we have taken our data from.  

As a rule, the record that is created locally, at the time the event occurred, is more likely to be accurate than a copy of that record that was created by the state office from whatever reporting method the local office used in reporting a batch of events to the state. 


The Editor